While scanning through Twitter the other day, I spied this line ‘the best way to get people to read your blog is to be likable’. I did not click the attached link, but someone I couldn’t forget the quote and the questions it raised for me. How do you know if you’re likable or not? Does that mean that if people don’t like your blog – or your writing – you’re not likable? What makes someone likable anyway? These are the kind of questions that put me off my Shreddies.
Writing is, in a strange way, a chance for me to not have to worry about being likeable for a while. Sure, I want people to like my stories – but I don’t need them to like me personally for me to feel good about that. Trying to be likeable is something I have to worry about quite often enough in the real world, writing is the chance to shuck off the responsibility and be as horrible or as conniving as I want to be – on paper anyway.
It’s nice to think that when you’re writing, your true self is hidden – even just a little (ok, so there’s the whole voice thing and idea you can’t escape getting some of your secret self on the page. But still) – and that while you’re behind the mask, the last thing you need to worry about is whether you’re coming across as likable.
The other day, a kind person left me a comment saying that, having read a couple of my stories in The Stinging Fly, they couldn’t tell whether I was male or female or young or old and I thought – yes! I love the idea that you can’t tell what the person is like from the story, love it. Even if it means I’m not as likable as some of my characters might be.